107°F
weather icon Clear

Witness in Trump impeachment takes Army retirement

WASHINGTON — Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a national security aide who played a central role in President Donald Trump’s impeachment case, announced his retirement from the Army on Wednesday in a scathing statement that accused the president of running a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation.”

The statement from attorney David Pressman said Vindman was leaving the Army after more than 21 years after it had been made clear “that his future within the institution he has dutifully served will forever be limited.”

“Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation, the President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers,” read the statement, first obtained by CNN.

Promotion list delayed

Vindman’s name was on a promotion list sent to Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier this year, according to one U.S. official familiar with the matter. But that list was delayed for weeks because the White House asked for an investigation of Vindman. The Pentagon did a review and found that any suggestion of misconduct was unfounded.

The official said the list was resent to Esper about a month ago, but again was delayed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Another official said Esper signed the promotion list this week, with Vindman’s name included. That list was expected to be sent to the White House by the end of the week, according to the defense official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss an internal personnel matter.

It’s not clear whether Esper already knew of Vindman’s plan to retire before he signed the list. The U.S. official said there was talk more than a week ago that he was planning to put in his retirement papers.

Pressman said Vindman “did what the law compelled him to do; and for that he was bullied by the President and his proxies.”

“LTC Vindman’s patriotism,” he said, “has cost him his career. Today our country loses a devoted soldier, but it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure it does not lose the values he represents.”

The White House and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ousted in February

Trump in February ousted Vindman from his job on the National Security Council, where he served as an expert on Ukraine, just two days after the president’s acquittal by the Senate. Vindman’s lawyer said then that his client had been told to leave in retaliation for “telling the truth.”

Vindman’s twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, was also asked to leave his job as a White House lawyer. Both men were reassigned to the Army.

Vindman had testified that he didn’t think it was “proper” for Trump to “demand that a foreign government investigate” former Vice President Joe Biden and his son’s work for the energy company Burisma in Ukraine. And he told impeachment investigators that he twice raised concerns over the administration’s push to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens.

In the aftermath, senior Pentagon leaders insisted that Vindman would not see any retaliation as a result of the testimony. Talking to reporters in November, Esper said the department has protections for whistleblowers.

Vindman “shouldn’t have any fear of retaliation. That’s DOD’s position,” Esper said, adding that he flatly rejected suggestions that the soldier’s career was over. He said he had spoken with Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy about the matter.

McCarthy said in February that Vindman was not under investigation, and that he was serving in a Army headquarters job and would go on to senior service college in the summer.

In gripping testimony, Vindman also spoke of his family’s story and his father bringing them to the U.S. from the Soviet Union when he was a young child.

“Dad, my sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected officials, is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to United States of America in search of a better life for our family,” he testified. “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

The lieutenant colonel, who served in Iraq and later as a diplomat, wore his uniform full of medals, including a Purple Heart.

When a soldier requests retirement, it must be approved by the Army’s Human Resources Command, and normally can take months to process before the person actually leaves the military.

AP National Security Writer Robert Burns contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
'Evangelicals for Trump' event draws hundreds to Las Vegas hotel - VIDEO
Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters packed the Ahern Hotel in Las Vegas for a faith-based campaign event. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak names new DETR director, head of unemployment task force - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak named Elisa Cafferata acting director of Nevada’s Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation and announced Barbara Buckley as the leader of a rapid response team on unemployment insurance at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak unveils long-term COVID-19 plan with Nevada Health Response team - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday a long-term strategy for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada through a targeted approach. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak: Bars in four counties to stay closed - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said bars in four counties, including Clark County, will remain closed to help fight COVID-19. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 case reported at Legislature's special session - Video
A person who was inside the Nevada Legislature Building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Friday, July 10. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump Pushing for Reopening Schools and In-Person Learning - Video
Donald Trump launched an effort on Wednesday to reopen schools across the United States with in-person learning.
Special session to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lawmakers to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Democratic leaders resign
Several key Clark County Democratic Party leaders have resigned as progressive leadership has swelled in recent months.
Dream Big Nevada celebrates DACA ruling - VIDEO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections under DACA for 650,000 young immigrants. Astrid Silva, founder of Dream Big Nevada, discusses the temporary victory and the next step for Dreamers.
Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of city council meeting - Video
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of a City Council meeting during public comments.
Mitt Romney marches in Washington, D.C., protest - Video
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined a group of protesters marching through Washington, D.C. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Trump extends unemployment benefits, defers payroll tax

The president intended to extend unemployment benefits, but it was not clear whether the assistance would remain at $600 a week or where the money would come from.